When even a company such as Booking.com -- which is obsessed with transactions -- launches an Inspire Me feature, you know a trend is afoot. This next generation of travel inspiration features have something that earlier pioneers didn't: they are integrated lockstep with bookings.
Just when you thought travel inspiration was dead in the form of of sites such as TravelMuse, Gtrot, Wanderfly, and Trippy, which in recent years have died, been acquired in fire sales or pivoted wildly, vacation inspiration is back — with a twist.
Iberia, Emirates, Booking.com, TripAdvisor, and easyJet are among a bevy of airline and hotel-booking websites that have launched inspirational features to supplement their “normal” search and booking processes.
That’s right, these inspirational tools, which are designed to get people off their couches and into planes and hotels, provide an alternative way to search for a vacation on booking sites.
The aforementioned first generation of vacation-inspiration sites generally were separated too far away from real-world transactions to sustain their business models, which generally revolved around advertising and/or affiliate deals.
Years ago, many of the booking sites shunned travel inspiration because these travelers were fooling around to early in the proverbial trip-planning cycle.
But, the current crop of next-generation travel inspiration sites lead travelers right into the booking on airline and online hotel or review sites.
You can view these travel inspiration features in the gallery above.
Iberia Inspire Me
Iberia’s Inspire Me feature gets very high marks for creativity. Insert a desired destination and the site lets you know that it is “charging,” meaning electrifying things up.
The Spanish airline leads users through a self-discovery exercise, informing travelers that “the place to which you travel will be you.” This has shades of Expedia’s Find Yours campaign.
Iberia then gets the award for most-imaginative categories for consideration, including sea, desert, meadow, snow and limes, to meet travelers’ desires.
Just drag three or more of these “things” into a search box, and “get inspired,” Iberia advises.
Emirates Inspire Me
Emirates’ Inspire Me feature enables travelers to find an “ideal experience for up to 35 destinations” by selecting beach, city – shop and indulge, safari, nature and scenery, history and culture, or backpacking, among other options.
Then insert a desired temperature at your destination, the hoped-for flight duration, view flight prices on a map, and off you go on your flight.
Booking.com Inspire Me
As with the other companies, Booking.com’s Inspire Me feature is for travelers who may not be sure where they want to travel. It enables travelers to choose trip types from art to beach, view destinations with the most user endorsements, or alternately users can search for hotels by tags.
This is a substantial departure for Booking.com, which is known for focusing on turning lookers to bookers as fast as possible … “Book Now, Pay When You Stay,” “Latest Booking: 6 minutes ago,” and “It’s likely we’ll sell out of rooms at this property within the next 2 days.”
TripAdvisor Travel Inspiration
TripAdvisor’s Travel Inspiration tool urges travelers to select a vacation type from adventure to casinos and/or beach and sun, and romance. That should be plenty to turn lookers into bookers.
Choose a region of the world, and then click or tap Inspire Me.
TripAdvisor then leads the user into its destination pages with maps and photos to depict the locale, and plenty of hotel options (family, luxury, best value, business, B&Bs) to turn inspiration into transaction.
easyJet Inspire Me
easyJet’s Inspire Me tool promises to provide “ideas on where to go” in case travelers are stumped about vacation options. The feature gets armchair travelers off the couch by inserting flight prices onto a map.
Click or tap on a price on a map, and a travel guides appears, with a button to flesh out flight options.
And that should really be plenty of fodder and inspiration to get travelers going.
These inspirational tools on booking sites aren’t for business travelers, and they won’t be used by most travelers, who mostly have at least have an idea of where they are headed.
A subset of travelers, though, will use these inspiration features to stoke their wanderlust.
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Photo credit: Emirates' Inspire Me feature enables travelers to find an "ideal experience for up to 35 destinations" by selecting beach, city - shop and indulge, safari, nature and scenery, history and culture, or backpacking, among other options. Emirates